All week we kept a close eye on various weather forecasts.  The weather didn’t look all that promising, but it looked like we would have some time to hunt plants, so we stuck to our plans and on Friday, Gail, Rusell and I travelled westwards towards Garcia’s Pass.

As we approached Riversdale we decided to head straight for the Pass to see what we could find before the bad weather arrived.  We drove over the Pass and turned east along the dirt road, stopping whenever we saw something interesting to fossick on the road verge.  It drizzled on and off. 

Before heading back to Riversdale we decided to see what was further north along the R323.  We were surprised to find a large building with signs advertising tempting fare.  Hoping for a cup of tea, we made our way through the gates…No tea (or coffee) was available, only an array of olive products and other farm stall fare.  Rusell treated us to a packet of Nik Naks and a toffee, which set us off reminiscing about how we spent our pocket money in our childhood.  We made a few more stops on the Pass on the way back to Riversdale.  Getting out of the car at the last stop was difficult as the wind was howling and even though we only walked a few metres, we were soaked by icy rain by the time we got back to the car.  We headed back to our very comfortable self-catering accommodation in Riversdale, very grateful for a hot shower and tea. We spent the evening with our heads in books trying to identify the plants we had seen.

Saturday was spent in much the same way, the weather continued to threaten so we explored the road verges north of the Pass, ending the day with toasted sandwiches at the Nibbling Squirrel.

As clear skies greeted us on Sunday morning, the day of our departure, we decided to do a short walk along Kristalkloof before heading home… Finally, as the clouds lifted, we had the chance to see the beauty of these fynbos-covered mountains, painted in shades of yellow and pink.  The fynbos was so beautiful! Gail and Rusell had some difficulty dragging me back to the car…I could have stayed there for a long, long time! 

Even though the weather was not in our favour, Rusell managed to collect about 35 specimens for the herbarium and I took nearly 2000 photos, some of which will appear on i-spot sometime in the future, so LOTS of work ahead of us.

The weather cleared on Sunday but we had to head back east. It looks like it will be clear for the rest of this week…our trip was just two days too early (or the good weather arrived two days too late)!  I hope we manage a return trip soon!

Some of the red-listed plants we saw (identifications yet to be confirmed):

Leucospermum erubescens (Rare);  Leucospermum mundii (Rare);   Erica grata (Rare);  Acmadenia latifolia (VU);   Berzelia ecklonii (Rare);   Serruria fasciflora (NT);   Berzelia burchellii (Vulnerable).

Nicky van Berkel (Outramps)

Leucospermum erubescens from Garcia's Pass (Photo: Nicky van Berkel) 

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